Perpetrators in Siegburg Prison Killing Handed Stiff Sentences | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 04.10.2007

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Perpetrators in Siegburg Prison Killing Handed Stiff Sentences

The trial of three men who admitted to torturing and killing their cellmate at a German juvenile detention center came to an end on Thursday, Oct. 4, with the presiding judge sentencing them to between 10 and 15 years.

A guard locks a prison door

The brutal torture and murder prompted a review of the youth detention system

The state court in Bonn ruled that the three men had with premeditation murdered 20-year-old Hermann H., who was found dead in his four-man cell at the correctional facility in the western German town of Siegburg on Nov. 11, 2006. He had been tortured, beaten and sexually abused for 12 hours before being forced to hang himself by his cellmates.

The judge stated that the three men, who had previously admitted to the killing, had planned to cover up the murder by making it look like suicide. The victim was known to have psychological problems and the plan seemed to be to make the death look like an attempt to be moved from the facility to a hospital.

The main instigator of the crime, 20-year-old Pascal I., was sentenced to 15 years in prison while accomplice Ralf A., 21, received 14 years. The third man, 18-year-old Dany K., was handed the maximum possible sentence under youth criminal law -- 10 years.

Public prosecutor calls for life for main culprit

The detention center in Siegburg, western Germany

The murder at the prison in Siegburg was premeditated

The judge was asked to take into consideration the recommendations of the public prosecutor's office in handing down the sentences. The public prosecutor had recommended a life sentence for Pascal I., with no chance of parole for 15 years. The judge complied with the office's wishes to the letter on both the other sentences.

A proposed case against prison personnel is still being considered after complaints made about the guards at the scene who failed to notice anything awry, despite the fact that the brutal ordeal went on for hours.

The murder in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) shocked Germany when it was first brought to light and prompted calls for sweeping reforms in the juvenile detention system. A second case at the prison, in which another detainee was taunted and harassed and eventually forced to slit his wrists, added weight to the calls.

Murder shocked NRW into prison reform review

NRW Justice Minister Roswitha Müller-Piepenkötter

Müller-Piepenkötter instigated a prison review

In response to the incidents in Siegburg, North Rhine-Westphalian Justice Minister Roswitha Müller-Piepenkötter announced measures to reduce overcrowding in the facilities and increase the number of guards.

She also laid out a plan to create an ombudsman's office to represent prisoners who feel their rights are being infringed upon, and she has created an "independent, expert panel" to look into the issue of how to improve the system.

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